Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Spain’s greatest ever midfielder Xavi Hernandez has announced his retirement from international football.

Xavi, 34, has won 133 international caps for Spain but lost his starting place during their disastrous FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil as Vicente del Bosque’s side exited the competition after just 2 games – and were the first to exit the FIFA World Cup 2014.

The 34 year old midfielder admits that he was due to retire after Euro 2012, but was persuaded to continue by coach Vicente del Bosque. During a Barcelona-based press conference, Xavi said,

I was going to retire after Euro 2012 but head coach Vicente del Bosque persuaded me to stay on and go to Brazil which was of course a huge disappointment for everyone and myself individually.

After Euro 2012, it was generally understood I was going to be leaving after Brazil 2014. I hope Del Bosque stays as manager as Spain because I don’t think there is a better man for the job. I want to thank everyone involved in that team for the way they treated me and the respect and I could not wish for a better time as an international.

More than any other player, the Barcelona midfielder has embodied the possession-based philosophy of Tiki-Taka, which took Spain to glory at the Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2012. In each victory, Xavi played an instrumental role, monopolising possession with unrivalled pass-completion statistics and allowing Spain to win game after game in the international arena.

On his decision to leave the national team, Xavi said, “I’ve taken the decision to leave the national team. My time there has finished. I’m grateful for all those years. It has been a fantastic time. I’m not 20 any more, but I still have the motivation of a kid. I was going to retire after Euro 2012 but head coach Vicente del Bosque persuaded me to stay on and go to Brazil, which of course was a huge disappointment for everyone and myself individually.”

“After Euro 2012, it was generally understood I was going to be leaving after Brazil 2014. I hope del Bosque stays as manager of Spain because I don;t think there is a better man for the job. ”

Long time international team mate Xabi Alonso is also reported to be considering his future with Spain.

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Although Xavi is quitting Spain, he remains with his club Barcelona. Xavi told a press conference that he had indeed made the decision to quit Barcelona but he has now reversed his decision and will stay put at the club where he has been for his entire football career.

7 time La Liga winner and 3 time Champions League winner says he was convinced to extend his career at Barcelona after discussions with new coach and former team mate Luis Enrique.

“I thank the club for being so patient and letting me think over my situation over the summer,” he said. “I’m happy that the club has faith in me and wants me to see out my contract. Having spoken to the coaches, they’ve made me feel competitive and useful.

“My contract is for two years so nothing changes. I think I made a rash decision to [consider leaving] the club and changed my mind. I wish to apologise and thank everyone.”

No one did more to establish Spain as football’s pre-eminent team and impose Tiki-Taka as the prevailing orthodoxy then Spain’s maestro Xavi Hernandez, who retires from the international side as the most influential player ever to wear the red of La Roja. Not only did he excel on the pitch, his close relationship with captain Iker Casillas also helped to heal rifts caused by the numerous El Clasicos between Barcelona and Real Madrid as Spain put aside their club rivalries to become arguably the greatest international side ever assembled, forget the FIFA World Cup 2014 folly.

Very few players quits the international duty having won 3 major tournaments, especially when the team in question had suffered so many heartbreaks before. Xavi’s style of play and quality has helped develop modern football as we know it today, a sport which should rightfully class the magician as a true icon.

A legend has departed the stage.

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Xavi Hernandez World Cup 2010

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Luis Suaraz

Suarez Strikes Again

Luis Suarez strikes again.

And by this, I don’t mean Suarez scoring another World Cup goal. Suarez has bitten yet another player. And this time the victim is non other than Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. In the match between Italy and Uruguay – where both teams have to win in order to qualify for the knock out stages – Uruguay has won 1-0 against 10-men Italy.

To refresh some of your minds, these are the scenes of the incident. The image above shows Suarez sinking his teeth into the shoulder of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini and the image below shows Chiellini pulling down his shirt to display the bite marks on his shoulder.

Luis Suarez Bites Luis Suarez Bites Georgio Chiellini

The first sign that some form of clashing has occurred was the sight of Suarez holding his mouth. Not too far away on the floor from him was Chiellini holding his shoulder. The first impression one would make is ‘Had Suarez been elbowed in the mouth?’

As the replays were made, there was a collective look of disbelief amongst the viewers. Did the Dracula Suarez just strike again? Chiellini then got up and went to the Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez to protest, pulling down the neck of his shirt to expose what appeared to be a bite mark.

The referee had not seen the incident and could do nothing about it. Moments later Uruguay scored, knocking Italy out of the World Cup and almost certainly bringing the curtain down on the international careers of some of the great Italian players of their era – Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi.

Luis Suarez previous controversies:

2010 July – Handles the ball on the line to deny Ghana a winner in the last minute of extra time in the World Cup 2010 quarter-finals. Asamoah Gyan misses the resulting penalty and Uruguay won the shoot-out to reach the semi-finals.

2010 November – Given 7 match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal on the shoulder while Suarez was playing for Ajax.

2011 December – Given 8 match suspension and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra despite protesting vehemently.

2012 February – Refuses to shake hands with Patrice Evra at Old Trafford and is described as a “disgraced” by Sir Alex Ferguson.

2013 April – Receives a 10-game ban after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

This is certainty not the first time Suarez has used his mouth literally against opponents. As FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Luis Suarez, he could well be on a lengthy ban. But then again, the fact that Suarez would receive his punishment well after the game would do nothing to change the results of the game.

Needless to say, if the referee and seen what Suarez did and gave his disciplinary action, the results would come out differently. Suarez would no doubt be shown the red. The fact that Suarez have been escaped punishment during the match has cost the Italians badly. Suarez has been denying his involvement.

He was quoted telling Uruguayan media,”These things happen in the box. We were in contact, chest against shoulder, and I got a knock to the eye.” Yet, when Suarez fell, video replays clearly shows him holding onto his teeth in pain, as Chiellini showed a visible bite mark.

How can Suarez not feel any sense of shame at his behaviour? At the end of the day, it makes me wonder if Suarez deserves to be on the field at all? I question if Suarez actually respects the game. Certainly, for the ill-disciplined but lucky Suarez, he can be proud to announced that he had just achieved a hat trick of bites while the Italians pack their bag and head home with nothing but pride.